Health experts have called for a premium to be placed on Tuberculosis within the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with a view to achieving the health gains the Federal Government anxiously hankers after.
This move they believe would ultimately translate into increased treatment success rates for TB and responsive TB treatment facilities as well as financial protection from hardship as a result of TB treatment.
This is according to a Board Member of Stop TB Partnership, Dr. Emeka Ogbuabor while speaking at the 4th Annual Legislative Summit on Health in Abuja.
Dr. Ogbuabor noted that the integration of TB into the health insurance system at the various levels of government would enhance resource mobilization to tackle the menace, while he advocated for increased domestic funding which stands at a meager 7 percent and international funding at 23 percent of the 30 percent utilized for TB in 2019.
“Globally, tuberculosis is the number one killer among the top 10 causes of deaths, and about 1.9 billion people globally are infected with tuberculosis. Every year, about 10 million people develop TB, including one million children, and over 800,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS. Nearly 500,000 people develop the variant of TB called multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (M-DRTB), and unfortunately, only one in three people receive treatment.
“Nigeria ranks 6th among the 30 high burden countries globally, and first in Africa as far as TB is concerned. We contribute about 11 percent of the global gap in the number of new TB cases, and after 440,000 estimated TB cases in Nigeria, we are only able to notify 27 percent. So where are over 70 percent of TB cases?
“An estimated 18 people die per hour of TB-related diseases, and that means we have 432 persons dying from TB everyday in Nigeria. Yet, we have about a 70 percent funding gap. Of the 30 percent funds we have used in 2019, 23 percent were developmental assistance funds; only 7 percent were domestically mobilizers.”
He explained that to guarantee improved TB outcomes, there is the need to increase coverage, improve access and use, and then improve the quality of TB care.
“One of the key challenges today in TB domestic resources mobilization is how to integrate TB into the health insurance schemes. Many states have not done their actuarial analysis and cannot say how much it would cost additionally on their premium to support this process.
“How can we get the various state legislatures to include this in their agenda, and interface with their various state governments to get the required funds to do an actuarial study to find out how much it will cost, and use it as an advocacy tool to push for the equity funds to be released and fill the funding gap.
“If you look at the local government system, you will realise that very few local government areas have invested in TB. Not many states have put their money to TB. We need not just budgeting for TB, but the actual releases.”
Nigeria remains one of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of TB. She ranks first in Africa with the number of undetected cases.
Although TB is a vaccine-preventable disease and also curable, statistics from the WHO shows that every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from TB, and about 590,000 new cases occur.
Data released by ‘Stop TB Partnership’ in March indicates a drastic decline in global treatment and diagnosis of TB cases witnessed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people worldwide.